Virginia Competes In NCAA Tourney
May 11, 2001
2001 NCAA Tournament — First Round
Hosted by Army
#14 Virginia (7-6, eighth seed) vs.#11 Hofstra (9-6, unseeded)
May 13, 2001
West Point, N.Y.
The Series vs. the Pride
Virginia leads the all-time series with Hofstra by an 11-3 margin. The teams met fairly regularly between 1970-82 (eight meetings), but have only met four times since then.
The Cavaliers won all eight meetings from 1970-82, but they have won only two of the last four match-ups.
Hofstra pulled out a 7-6 overtime win in 1993 in the most recent meeting between the two schools.
Virginia’s last win was a 17-5 victory in 1992.
This is the second time Virginia has played Hofstra in the NCAA Tournament. In 1973 the Cavaliers gained a 12-5 win over the Pride in the quarterfinals of the national playoffs.
Five Common Opponents
Virginia and Hofstra have five opponents in common this season and both teams registered two wins over those foes. The chart below shows the results of these common opponent games.
Cavaliers Defeat Butler the Last Time Out
All-American Conor Gill returned to action after missing one game to spark Virginia to an 11-8 victory over Butler in Indianapolis, Ind. in its final game before the NCAA Tournament. The win moved UVa above .500 and made the Cavaliers eligible for their ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Middie Chris Rotelli scored all three of his goals in the first half as Virginia jumped to a 6-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Butler’s Dan Torgersen and Doug Patterson scored in the final two minutes of the half to trim the Cavaliers’ halftime lead to 6-5.
The Bulldogs knotted the score at 6-all with their third goal in a row 3:02 into the third quarter on Ryan Ward’s first goal of the game. Defenseman Ryan Stopper pushed the ball downfield on a clear and fed Ward on the crease for the tying goal.
Gill, who didn’t enter the game until the second quarter, reentered the contest early in the third quarter and quickly made his presence felt. Following a holdling penalty on Matt Yeager, Gill worked his way from behind the cage, dodged several defenders and beat goalie Brendan Winkler from point blank range for the eventual game-winner with 8:16 remaining in the third quarter. Gill gave the Cavaliers a two-goal cushion two-and-a-half minutes later with his second goal of the quarter.
Ward’s second tally of the game a minute later brought the Bulldogs to within a goal at 8-7.
Face-off specialist David Jenkins helped Virginia hold possession for most of the fourth quarter by winning all four face-offs in the period.
Butler’s Winkler recorded 16 saves, while Virginia’s Tillman Johnson stopped five shots.
Starsia Wins 200th Game as Head Coach, Approaches Rare Feat
With each victory, Virginia head coach Dom Starsia moves closer to several coaching milestones. In 19 seasons as a collegiate head coach at Brown and UVa, Starsia has fashioned a 200-81 record and is the seventh-winningest active Division I coach. His 200th career victory came in the 11-8 win over Butler on May 1.
In his ninth year at the helm of the Virginia program, Starsia’s Cavalier squads have compiled a 99-35 overall record. With his next victory, Starsia would become only the second coach in school history to win 100 games. Jim Adams won a school-record 137 games (and lost 60) at Virginia from 1978-92.
Starsia won 101 games in 10 seasons at Brown and as he passes the 200-career victory mark, he is also drawing nearer to becoming only the third coach in college history (as best as we can tell) to win 100-or-more games at two different schools.
A look at the known coaches who have won 100+ games at two different schools are listed below. It is interesting to note that the two coaches with 100+ wins at two schools are both still coaching.
Virginia in the NCAAs
This is Virginia’s 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Only Johns Hopkins has been to the tournament (30 times) more than the Cavaliers. Maryland is also playing in its 25th tournament.
The Cavaliers have a 26-22 all-time playoff record and are fourth in tournament wins behind Johns Hopkins (46), Syracuse (37) and Maryland (32).
Wahoos Make Ninth Consecutive NCAA Appearance
This is Virginia’s ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which is tied for the longest such streak in school history. The Cavaliers also made nine straight trips to the NCAAs under Jim Adams from 1978-86.
Virginia’s nine-year run is the fifth-longest current streak. Schools with longer streaks are Johns Hopkins (30), Syracuse (19), Loyola (14), and Princeton (12).
Cavaliers Enter NCAA Tournament as the Eighth Seed
Virginia is seeded eighth in this year’s NCAA Tournament, the second-lowest seed in school history. In 1988 the Cavaliers were unseeded after going 7-4 in the regular season. They acquitted themselves well, though, winning two overtime contests before falling to Cornell (also unseeded) in the national semifinals.
The Cavaliers have had remarkable success as the higher seed in the tournament, posting a 20-8 record. Under head coach Dom Starsia, Virginia is 9-3 as the higher seed.
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 12 teams in 1987, the #8 seed is 9-5 vs. its unseeded opponents in the first round. Recently, the eighth seed has lost two of the last three years, including Cornell’s 14-12 loss to Georgetown last year. It’s interesting to note that the only #8 seed to win in the first round since 1997 was Syracuse in 1999. That year the Orangemen advanced to the finals before falling to Virginia 12-10 in the title game.
Cavaliers Play in NCAA First Round
This is the first time since 1998 that Virginia failed to receive a first round bye and only the third time that’s happened in nine tournament appearances under head coach Dom Starsia. The Cavaliers have won all three first-round games under Starsia (1993, ?94, ?98) and are 4-2 all time in the first round.
The Cavaliers have only had a one-game stay in the NCAA Tournament just eight times in 24 previous appearances in the national playoffs and have compiled a 16-8 record in their NCAA opener (regardless of round). Under Starsia, the Cavaliers have won seven of eight opening games. Their only loss occurred in 1997 when they lost Maryland 10-9 on the Terrapins’ home field.
Starsia’s Cavaliers vs. Higher Ranked Opponents
Virginia is 14th in the current USILA poll, while Hofstra has won five of its last six games to jump to 11th in the poll.
Since UVa is typically found at or near the top of the polls, it’s not unusual that the Cavaliers are the higher ranked team more often than not. However, on the rare occasions when the Cavaliers are the lower ranked squad they have had pretty good success springing an upset under head coach Dom Starsia. They are 15-17 when being the lower-ranked team under Starsia. This season the Cavaliers are 2-4 as the lower-ranked squad, with the wins coming over Maryland and Johns Hopkins.
Their all-time record as the lower-ranked team is 40-63, including a 9-10 record as the lower-ranked team in the NCAA Tournament.
Johnson Named ACC Men’s Lacrosse Rookie of the Year
Goalie Tillman Johnson was named the this season’s ACC Rookie of the Year in a vote of the league’s four head coaches. Johnson is the first goalie to ever win the conference’s rookie award. Overall, he is the seventh Cavalier to win the award and the second in the last three seasons (Conor Gill won the award in 1999).
One of the top freshmen in the nation, the Annapolis, Md., native has lived up to his billing with an excellent freshman campaign for the Cavaliers this spring. He has started all 13 games and is allowing an average of 7.84 goals per game. He has made 137 saves and his save percentage of .581 is the highest for a Virginia goalie since Tom Groeninger (.598) in 1990.
Undoubtedly the top rookie goalie in the country, Johnson is currently eighth in the nation in goals-against average, allowing just 7.84 goals per game.
He is the leading freshman goalie in goals-against average and save percentage.
Johnson was named the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse.com Division I National Player of the Week for his play in UVa’s 9-8 quadruple overtime win over Johns Hopkins on March 24. In that game he recorded a career-high 18 saves in the upset win over the fifth-ranked Blue Jays. Led by the play of the rookie netminder, Virginia allowed just one goal in the game’s final 44 minutes as Virginia came from behind to win the longest game in school history.
The following week he stymied the Maryland offense in a 7-2 Virginia win and was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Week. He turned in a tremendous performance against the Terrapins, by recording 16 saves, including several from point-blank range, while giving up just two goals. The two goals were the fewest the Terps scored in a game since 1948.
Three Cavaliers Named All-ACC
Three Cavaliers were named to the 2001 All-ACC squad in voting by the league’s head coaches. Two Cavaliers are repeaters from last season — Conor Gill and Mark Koontz — while Chris Rotelli was selected for the first time.
Gill is the first Cavalier attackman named to the All-ACC squad in his sophomore and junior seasons since Michael Watson and Doug Knight in 1995-96. Koontz joins Scott Lind (1984, ?86) as the only defensemen in school history named to the all-conference squad as a sophomore and junior. It should be noted that Lind did not play in 1985 due to an injury.
Gill and Koontz are the only juniors on the all-league team.
Rotelli, the team’s leading goal scorer, is UVa’s first sophomore middie named All-ACC since Andy Kraus in 1988. Rotelli is one of three sophomores on this year’s All-ACC squad.
Of the five non-seniors on the 2001 All-ACC team, three are Cavaliers.
Jenkins Move to Third in Face-off Wins
For the last three years David Jenkins shared UVa’s face-off duties with Jason Hard, giving Dom Starsia the luxury of having two outstanding face-off specialists. In fact, both were ranked in the top 10 in the nation the last two seasons. But with Hard’s graduation, Jenkins has taken most of the team’s draws this season.
So far this season Jenkins has won 56.8 percent of his draws (133 of 234) and ranks 18th nationally in winning percentage. This week he gets to go up against Hofstra’s Doug Shanahan. Shanahan is fith in the nation, winning 63.7 percent of his face-offs.
Jenkins has won 62.2 percent (46 of 74) of his face-offs in the NCAA Tournament and his 92.9 winning percentage (13 of 14) vs. Delaware in 1999 is the best performance by a Cavalier in NCAA playoff history.
Jenkins had one of his best games of the season in the win over Johns Hopkins, winning 14 of 23 draws (.609). Perhaps his most important win came in the fourth overtime when UVa claimed the draw and scored on the possession to win the game.
Jenkins has won 60.4 percent of his career face-offs, the third-highest total in school history. Steve Kraus holds the school record with a 68.0 winning percentage, while Gabby Roe (1988-91) is second. Roe won 60.5 percent of his draws (263 of 435).
The senior from Dedham, Mass., is also third in school history in face-offs taken.
If the Cavaliers make a run through the NCAA Tournament, Jenkins could move up even more on UVa’s face-off wins chart. He needs 19 wins to pass Brad Wood for second place in school history.
The winningest face-off men in school history are listed below.
West Point is Cavaliers’ Graveyard
The Cavaliers hope to go against history in this game against Hofstra in West Point, N.Y. In the storied history of the Virginia lacrosse program, the Cavaliers have never won a game in West Point, going 0-7 against Army on the Cadets’ home field starting in 1948. Virginia hasn’t played in West Point since dropping a 7-5 decision to Army in 1968.
This is the first time the Cavaliers have played a team other than Army in West Point., as well as the first time they have played in Michie Stadium. (The games vs. Army were played at Clinton Field.) Head coach Dom Starsia no doubt hopes these factors help end Virginia’s run of bad luck in West Point.
Gill Likes NCAA Tourney Play
All-American attackman Conor Gill has turned in some of the best performances of his career in the NCAA Tournament.
As a freshman in 1999, he helped lead the Cavaliers to the national title and was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
In his first NCAA Tourney game — a quarterfinal match-up vs. Delaware — Gill led the team with three assists in a 17-10 victory. He had a performance for the ages against Johns Hopkins in the national semifinals by erupting for five goals (all in a 3:08 span of the first quarter) as Virginia won 16-11. Gill capped off his first tourney with a goal and three assists vs. Syracuse in the title game. He scored UVa’s 11th goal and assisted on the Cavaliers’ 12th goal as they captured the title with the 12-10 win.
Last season Gill had his 29-game scoring streak (goal or assist) stopped in Virginia’s 10-9 quarterfinal win over Duke. But he came back with two goals and five assists in the loss to Princeton in the national semifinals.
In five career NCAA Tournament games, Gill has scored eight goals and added 11 assists.
Gill is Second in Nation in Assists and Leads ACC in Scoring
Despite Virginia’s scoring troubles this season, attackman Conor Gill has still managed to efficiently direct the offense and has been the team’s leading scorer the entire season.
He is ranked second in the nation in assists with an average of 2.67 per game (32 assists in 12 games).
One of the interesting points about Gill’s play this season is that he is also the leading scorer in the ACC (14g, 32a) with an average of 3.83 points per game.
Gill’s 32 assists are tied for 13th on UVa’s all-time single-season list. He has 102 in his career, fifth in school history. Gill is also working his way up the all-time ACC assists list as shown below.
Rotelli Third in ACC in Goals
Chris Rotelli has seen action at attack and in the midfield this season in order to give Virginia some scoring punch. The sophomore from Rumford, R.I., has been just about the only Cavalier who hasn’t had trouble finding the back of the net so far this season.
He leads the team with 25 goals, ranking third in the ACC in that category. In fact, he took just four games this spring to top his total of seven goals last season. He is also second on the squad with 31 total points (25g, 6a).
Moved to the attack for the first time for the Syracuse game, Rotelli responded with a then career-high three goals to lead the Cavalier attack. He turned in his second hat trick vs. Notre Dame sharing the scoring honors with A.J. Shannon.
He saw his 10-game goal scoring streak end vs. Maryland in last month’s ACC Tournament, but he has come back to score five goals in the last two contests — two vs. Ohio State and three against Butler.
Other than the Maryland game where he was blanked, Rotelli has been UVa’s leading goal scorer (or tied for leadership) every game since the North Carolina game.
Winning the Ground Ball War
One of the goals of the Virginia coaching staff this season has been the desire to snag more ground balls than the opposition. This season the Cavaliers are averaging 47.8 ground balls per game and have claimed more ground balls than their opponents on six occasions this season, winning four.
When Virginia has lost the ground ball war, the outcome generally hasn’t been good. The Cavaliers have lost three times in four games when having fewer ground balls than the opposition, as well as losing to Maryland when the teams had the same number of ground balls.
Virginia scooped up a season-high 64 ground balls against Radford and averaged 54.5 ground balls per game during its four-game winning streak earlier in the season.
The Cavaliers have won 31 of their last 33 games dating back to 1998 when snapping up at least 50 ground balls.
Power Shortage Reaches Charlottesville
One of the characteristics of this lacrosse season is a nationwide trend toward low-scoring games. This has certainly been typical of Virginia this season.
Normally one of the most high-powered squads around (nation’s top-scoring offense in 1997 and 1999), the Cavalier offense has experienced a power shortage similar to that faced in California earlier this year (well, maybe not exactly, but close).
The Cavaliers are averaging just 10.15 goals per game, their lowest average since the 1969 squad averaged 9.80 goals per game. Under Dom Starsia, the drop is significant. Virginia’s lowest scoring average occurred in Starsia’s first season in Charlottesville when the 1993 team averaged 12.67 goals per game. (One reason for the team’s success this season has been the play of the defense. The Cavaliers are allowing an average of 7.77 goals/game, their lowest since a 7.20 g/g mark in 1986.)
Chris Rotelli is the only Cavalier with more than 15 goals. His 25 goals are third in the ACC.
The seven goals the Cavaliers scored against Syracuse on March 3 ended a streak of 21 consecutive games dating back to the middle of the 1999 season where they reached double figures. That streak is the second-longest streak in school history. The school record is 44 consecutive games with 10+ goals from 1995-97.
The four goals vs. Princeton is UVa’s lowest output under Dom Starsia, while the five goals vs. North Carolina is the second-lowest total under him. Overall, five of the 14-lowest scoring games under Starsia have come this season.
Shure Adds Punch to Offense
Junior attackman Ian Shure got off to a slow start this season, due in part to the effects of offseason surgery. But as Conor Gill has been slowed due to a recent hand injury, Shure has picked up his play.
And as Gill returns to full strength, Shure’s rejuvenation will help perk up an offense that has struggled at times.
Shure scored a goal and added a career-high four assists in Gill’s place in the win over Ohio State.
In the next game, he scored three goals (two from Gill feeds) and had an assist to lead UVa to a win over Butler.
Shure is second on the team with 14 assists and tied for third with 14 goals. His 28 points are third-best on the team.
Friends and Family Weekend
Two Cavaliers will have an opportunity to either see old teammates in action or go up against family members.
Defenseman Steve Burman graduated from Bucknell last spring and is playing as a graduate student with UVa this season. He has the chance to see his old Bison teammates as they meet Notre Dame in Sunday’s first game. Bucknell never received an NCAA Tourney bid while Burman was on the team, so he no doubt will be following the game with interest.
Sophomore face-off man Calvin Sullivan will be able to experience something few athletes do — playing against a sibling. Sullivan’s older brother, Jay, is a starting defenseman for the Pride.
Holcomb Scores in Bunches
Senior middie Hanley Holcomb scored 27 goals two years ago and was one of the unsung Cavaliers during their championship season. But last season was a trying one for the lefty from Ridgewood, N.J. Hampered for much of the season with a nagging hamstring injury, his goal output dropped to 10 as he pressed to regain his scoring touch. He scored just once in the first six games (missed two due to injury) and he failed to score more than two goals in any game.
Owner of one of the hardest shots in the game today, Holcomb has had an up-and-down campaign this spring.
A return to his play of two years ago will go a long way toward helping the Cavaliers advance deep into the tournament.
He is tied for third on the team with 14 goals, but hasn’t had a multi-goal game since scoring twice in the win over Maryland seven games ago.
In fact, when he does score his goals come in bunches. He notched three goals in the opener vs. Towson to share the scoring honors with Billy Glading.
After his hat trick vs. Towson, he failed to score in the next three games. He tied his career-high with four goals against Denver and added two in the win over Maryland.
The Cavaliers have been almost invincible when Holcomb turns in a multi-goal game. They are 16-1 (3-0 in 2001) when he scores at least twice.
He has proven goal-scoring ability in the NCAA Tournament which should bode well for the Cavaliers. He scored two goals in a quarterfinal win over Delaware two years ago and led the team with three goals in the title game vs. Syracuse.
Last year he scored twice vs. Duke in the quarterfinals.
Defense Shuts Down Opponents This Season
Despite starting a freshman in goal, another on close defense, as well as a sophomore and a junior on close defense, the Cavalier defense has been one of the team’s strong points for most of the season.
Virginia is ninth in the country, allowing an average of 7.77 goals per game this season. Syracuse’s 13 goals are the most given up by UVa, and is only one of four double digit performances allowed by UVa this season.
The Cavaliers’ goals against average is the lowest by a Virginia squad since the 1986 team allowed an average of 7.20 goals/g.
The defense has been especially stingy in UVa’s seven wins this season. The chart below shows the defense’s averages in several key areas in UVa’s wins and losses this season.
During its four-game winning streak earlier in the season, Virginia gave up an average of 4.5 goals per game. During that span goalie Tillman Johnson allowed just 17 goals, while making 52 saves, in 210:00. Based on a 60-minute game that is a 4.86 GAA and a .754 save percentage. At one point he gave up just one goal in 80:19 against Johns Hopkins and Maryland.
All-American Mark Koontz headlines the close defense. He leads ACC long sticks in ground balls, with an average of 4.92 per game. His ability to be a vacuum cleaner for ground balls isn’t surprising since he led ACC long sticks in ground balls last season.
Sophomore Ned Bowen made his first start on close defense against Maryland in the first meeting between the two and was responsible for holding the explosive Andrew ?Buggs? Combs to just one goal (and that came with less than 30 seconds to play).
Freshman Brett Hughes has been a workhorse as well. An excellent athlete who hails from the same hometown as Koontz (Upper Arlington, Ohio), he has scooped up 41 ground balls. Starsia and his staff believe that Hughes has a bright future ahead of him.